Venezuelan Prisons worse than Dante's Hell
The German news magazine Der Spiegel published today an article on their web site about German inmates in Venezuelan prisons. According to the article, there are currently 35 people from German speaking countries and 1,400 from other countries incarcerated in Venezuela. Most are convicted or awaiting conviction for drug related charges.
Der Spiegel specifically reports about the case of a 33 year old guy who was caught while trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country. Originally confined to the Los Teques prison, he was ordered by the prison director, who was worried that he wouldn't survive conditions there, to be transferred to the Maracay prison, a luxurious place compared to the dilapidated facility of Los Teques. While most of the foreign embassies try to negotiate their nationals out of the country under bilateral prison transfer agreements, the process nevertheless can be excruciatingly slow and the current Interior Minister, Pedro Carreño, a military of dubious background, seems reluctant to sign transfers.
The plight of inmates caught up in the inhumane Venezuelan prison system is nothing new. Overcrowded, notoriously violent, controlled by mafias and corrupt guards with one third of the prison population awaiting trial, Venezuelan prisons have been described as the most dangerous in Latin America. Every year hundreds of inmates are killed or maimed in prison riots. Numerous reports have been written about it, human rights organizations have been complaining for decades and each government promises to remedy the situation, to no avail. Under the last Caldera government, they went even so far as to blow up the infamous Reten de Catia as if that was going to solve the problem.
The so called revolutionary government is no different from its predecessors, as you can see in this grim video. According to the NGO Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones, between January and September 2007, 370 inmates have been murdered and 781 have been injured.